Himansu Shekhar Rout

In 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won eight Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, but the party was predicted by Exit polls to get over 15 seats in the 2024 election. The saffron party's tremendous rise and electoral success in Odisha as projected by the exit polls has been a topic of discussion.

As per reports, the exit poll by India Today-Axis predicted that the BJP is expected to acquire 51 per cent of the votes in Lok Sabha elections. Many wonder about the factors responsible for the BJP’s spectacular electoral gains.   

Also Read | Odisha Assembly Polls 2024: Exit Poll predicts 62-80 seats each for BJP & BJD

It is said that the bureaucratic hegemony of non-Odias and Odia Asmita turned out to be major factors that worked for the BJP in the 2024 elections. 

Odia Swabhiman and Asmita Major Factors for BJP Gains?

BJD’s alleged fall in democratic values and power concentration with retired IAS officer VK Pandian reportedly fuelled the issues raised by the BJP. 

Crores of rupees were spent from the state treasury for meetings and tours of VK Pandian to collect complaints from people. He was often seen alone on the dais while elected representatives were below the dais. The dominance of non-Odia IAS officers in administrative matters and their political interference really ignited public resentment to a great extent. 

At this crucial moment, the BJP decided to go solo weaponising the issues of Odia swabhiman and asmita.

Most BJP stalwarts including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP National President JP Nadda and Chief Ministers of Assam, Uttar Pradesh and other leaders frequented Odisha and repeatedly targeted the state government on such issues. Their visits and attacks on the BJD government worked wonders for the BJP, it was said.

Ratna Bhandar and Pandian Dominated the Campaigning

Moreover, the BJP nailed the BJD government over other important issues like the missing key of Ratna Bhandar, the demand for the opening of all four gates of Srimandir, the alleged hiding of the report of the Commission of Inquiry, inaction in the mining and Chit fund scam. Such issues left the BJD on the back foot. 

Senior journalist Rabi Das pointed out, “Ratna Bhandar and Pandian issues entirely shadowed the elections. Besides, the ageing problem of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and anti-incumbency due to long years of rule impacted people.”  

The other factors that helped the BJP to have an edge over the BJD are the growing popularity of Prime Minister Modi and the Modi Guarantees. The BJP also tried to attract people from all sections. Rs 50,000 vouchers under Subhadra Yojana were promised for women while 1.5 lakh jobs for youths and Rs 3100 MSP for farmers were other factors responsible for BJP’s astounding success in Odisha.  

BJP leader Pratap Sarangi said, ”Modiji’s popularity has grown while BJP governments’ spectacular performance in various states attracted people to the BJP. The BJP will form the government in the state and elect more MPs to the parliament.”  

BJD leader Padmanabha Behera said, ”The BJD will have a massive mandate for the government again, regardless of exit poll results.”

Also Read | BJD, Congress sceptical of Exit Poll results on Odisha; BJP upbeat about good performance

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